Volume 51 Number 3, 2014
Pages 335 — 350
Abstract — Functional testing is particularly useful in the clinic and for making research translatable; however, finding measures relevant across ages and different conditions can be difficult. A systematic review was conducted to investigate timed stair tests as an objective measure of functional abilities and musculoskeletal integrity. Data were analyzed for their ability to differentiate between controls and patient groups and between different patient groups. Literature was reviewed using the Medline, CINAHL, and PubMed databases until February 2012. Data were grouped according to methodology, ages, and medical conditions. Time per step was calculated to allow comparison between studies. Eighty-eight studies were included in this review. Methodologies varied considerably with stair ascent, stair descent, or a combination of the two being used across a wide range of ages and medical conditions. Times increased with age for ascent, descent, and combined and for a variety of medical problems. Timed stair tests appear to be sensitive to medical conditions but further data are required to obtain normative values for this test. We suggest that timed stair tests should follow a more standardized methodology using a combination of ascent and descent and asking participants to complete the stairs as quickly and safely as possible.
Key words: age groups, functional measure, lower limb, musculoskeletal abnormalities, normative values, reference values, speed, stair navigation, task performance, time.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:34 AM